The Devil’s Candy (2015)

[7.0]

Ethan Embry stars as a husband and father who moves his family to a new home where a mentally ill man (Pruitt Taylor Vince) committed murder. Embry’s character is a painter, and through supernatural means, develops a connection to the killer through his paintings. Before long, the killer begins murdering children and directly seeks out Embry’s daughter (Kiara Glasco). After repeated encounters with the killer and failed protection from the police, Embry finds himself fighting for his family’s life.

The Devil’s Candy is from writer/director Sean Byrne, whose previous film, The Loved Ones, is one of the most tightly-wound horror-thrillers of the last ten years. The Devil’s Candy leans more on character drama than the visceral gut punches found in The Loved Ones. The story — the killer’s backstory and motives — is not what will stick with you here. It’s the relationship between father and daughter that makes the film successful. Embry’s character feels increasingly helpless and guilty as the killer makes repeated attempts to kidnap and murder his daughter. You can feel the daughter beginning to lose faith in her father — knowing he can’t protect her. That shaking of faith is more horrifying than anything else the killer could possibly do to them.

Embry is buff as hell in the movie, and delivers a career-best performance as far as I’m concerned. Kiara Glasco is also great as the daughter, and Pruitt Taylor Vince is a natural (if perhaps uninspired) choice for the killer. Beautiful photography and third act fireworks bring everything together nicely in the end.

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